Saturday, March 10, 2007

How the Globe Reported Then and Now

Mass Liberal and Dedham Blog both analyzed stories in the Globe today - showing that, once again, there was some poor reporting about Governor Patrick. In trying to constructively criticize the Globe, I decided I'd take a look back into Mitt Romney's first foray as Governor in Massachusetts. Memory lane shows stories of a different kind about our estranged, former Governor during the infancy of his visit.

For example,
Legislative Leaders Say Details Lacking on Romney Budget

In a rebuke to Governor Mitt Romney, the House's top budget writer is accusing the administration of keeping "basic information" about his budget proposals from legislators, possibly forcing them to jettison his central plans because they can't properly analyze them.

House Ways and Means Chairman John H. Rogers sent a letter to Romney's budget chief yesterday saying that about 100 hours of testimony and thousands of pages of paperwork supplied by the administration have produced "more questions than answers." ....

House leaders will spend the next three weeks completing their own budget document, and Rogers's letter suggests that they may ignore many of Romney's main proposals and cut much more than the governor has proposed. Some in the Legislature may also push to raise taxes, though House leaders have said that is highly unlikely given Romney's promise to veto any tax hike.

Here we have an article with a headline that describes what the article is about, unlike today's story on Deval. Furthermore, there are no loaded words. For example, Lisa Wangsness's piece in the Globe about dissension in the blogosphere read, "With the latest headline, dissent erupted in the blogosphere." Erupted? Really?

I imagine, if we could roll back the clock 4 years, the article Wangsness's article would have read more like this:

With the latest headline, many liberal bloggers expressed disappointment in Governor Patrick. "The caddy didn't matter. The drapes don't matter. This matters," wrote Charley Blandy, a cofounder of Blue Mass. Group, the state's leading left-wing blog and a strong voice for Deval Patrick during last year's gubernatorial campaign.
What's even more revealing is the number of stories done on Mitt Romney. I used a journal locating service on my university's library website to do some digging. In searching the first 50 Globe headlines that include at least a mention of Mitt Romney, from the 15th of January (to avoid any coming-into-office stories) to the end of March in 2003, only six articles include Romney's name at the top. Deval Patrick has probably had six headlines featuring his name at the top in the last week. Furthermore, while Deval's headlines have at times focused on innuendo (especially this pension article), Mitt Romney's headlines featured such extoling words as "cheering the troops!"

Do any of us, for a single second, think Mitt Romney was the golden boy he made himself out to be at any point during his administration? The only difference between the real Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick's obvious gaffes is that Deval got caught and the media devoured it (to the tune of three front-page stories in three consecutive days about the same, singular gaffe). The media could have easily turned stories like Mitt's cuts on UMASS into "Mitt Puts Students' Education at Risk," but that would have been extremely prejudiced.

For some reason - and I really don't know why - there certainly are differences in the way the Globe's news staff writes today and how they did back then. There was less flowery language, which is more open to bias and prejudice, even if that's just a reader's interpretation. Furthermore, for whatever reason, the Globe is either finding or printing more stories about Deval than they did Mitt. Maybe Deval's really just made more gaffes, maybe the Globe didn't report or do enough digging about what went on during the Romney administration's early tenure.

In either case, what's important is that the Globe make a better effort to avoid any potentially loaded words, along with ditching the any mug-shot-esque pictures that relate to stories in no way whatsoever. Finally, Deval Patrick has a lot of proposals and has an aggressive agenda. Readers of the Globe deserve to know more about how Deval intends to pass his proposals. They deserve stories that just report the facts, in a fair and responsible way.


DedhamBlog said...

Just as a comparison, here are the 17 articles containing Mitt Romney and Mistake from Feb. 1, 2003 to March 10, 2003 according to Google News archive search compared to 65 articles containing Deval Patrick and Mistake from Feb. 1, 2007 to today. More importantly look at the subject and tone of those articles. It is quite amazing.

Boston political insiders will, of course, insist this is because he isn't being "handled" by political professionals.

DedhamBlog said...

I guess more to the point would be to list the 14 articles from the Globe for Patrick as opposed to the 8 articles for the Globe for Romney. The point is still there, and the difference in the tone of the articles is too. I will say that some of these issues are definitely a concern, but my frustration stems from the fact that the rate of these articles is only increasing. And with that increase comes weak reporting in order to serve up the type of story people seem to be hungry for. I don't want to see this get out of hand and permanently damage what I consider to be a positive start for this administration

steverino said...

I find it weird that Andrea Estes is Deval's neighbor in Milton, as far as I can tell.

Go Google them, then get Google map directions from one house to the other. You can walk.

Was she the one who reported last year about Patrick's lavish renovations that pissed off the neighbors?

That would be an interesting connection to DrapeGate, no?

Have their been any lawsuits or complaints to the city from the neighbors about construction noise, etc?

How would we find out?

I tried to post this on BMG, but it's down.

carpathian said...

That's funny, "Andrea Estes, Obsessed With Patrick's Personal Style!"

I swear I called this one, after the Caddy thing I laughed and said next thing they'll have a problem with the curtains or fixing teh floor in teh office or something. I predict that'll be next, any takers?

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